Well, what do you know – as hard as it was to fathom, 2020 is coming to an end and as much as I (along with some billions across the world) would like to believe that Covid-19 has an expiration date of December 31, 2020, it still is wishful thinking unless proven otherwise.
But with vaccines with 95 per cent accuracy on the horizon, humankind will certainly prevail, but that is not the concern or question at this point. When Covid-19 is behind us and as we boldly venture back into the world, sans face mask and gloves, things might not be exactly as we left them.
A time like now may have been a remote possibility on a research document same time last year. This global pandemic has questioned the practices of individuals and organisations at all levels. As a species, we have been reminded of our vulnerability to the unknown. It might not be wrong to say that this period is a mirror that reflects the best and worst practices of people and organizations for everyone to learn from.
What will post-Covid-19 look like for businesses and society as a whole?
Sustainability is key
We talk about sustainability very often but sadly in a very monolithic context. Sustainability is how businesses are envisioned to fare long before they are set up and executed. Sustainability is forecast of profits, management of cashflows and mitigation of unforeseen risk. Within the first few weeks of the lockdown, businesses all over the world started laying off staff to stay afloat. If letting go of employees was the only option available to an organisation, then what had been the contingency plan of such businesses? If there was one!
Companies that have been running on and for immediate returns will find it difficult to stabilise and bounce back post the Covid-19 restriction period. Businesses must have at least basic pay of employees and operation costs for three to six months as back up for an unforeseeable circumstance in the future. Such discipline will only contribute to an establishment’s long-term sustainability. Organisations have to act with more prudence and operate to be sustainable than just profitable on a month to month basis.
Many companies were able to adapt quickly to the situation by reshuffling resources or making quick changes to cater to market requirement. This attitude and aptitude of businesses will always be worth their weight in gold. 2021 will be all about consolidation and alignments for large organisations and innovation and edge for SMEs and entrepreneurs.
With the advent of social-distancing not only working and studying went online but businesses and educational institutions had to take into account the advantages of technology and scale up and adapt to all tasks that do not require physical presence by moving them to the online space especially to mitigate any similar situation that may arise in the future.
This was also an opportunity for public and private sector enterprises to review the user-friendliness of their online services and make it as easy to use as possible. Many organisations have been present online, but the current situation was a litmus test for functional relevance. Dubai’s governmental sector, while being absolutely digital and very good at that – was quick to revamp processes for everything from online car registration renewal from RTA and Virtual Helpdesks for Dewa.
Don’t get me wrong, human interaction will not and cannot be completely replaced, but practical application of technology that is judiciously adopted by organisations cannot be overlooked in the post coronial era.
Many sectors especially vital ones like healthcare, legal system, etc., will hopefully continue to embrace technology with working knowledge gathered during this time and use it for improved efficiency.
Many nations have strict laws in place to protect the environment. Despite rigorous attempts to encourage industries worldwide to reduce polluting the environment or activities that deplete natural resources it leaves a lot to be desired. We cannot ignore the remarkable recovery that nature has made in various parts of the world as it was uninterrupted by human activity – no flights for international meetings, lesser paper for team meetings, lesser vehicles going to and from offices, lesser industrial waste, the list goes on. Unfortunately, this had to be understood at the cost of lives and livelihood that have been lost.
Countries, organisations and individuals will have to take more responsibility for actions that have an impact on the environment. Our future generations deserve to enjoy the beauty and natural resources of this planet as much as we do.
Humans have a tendency to forget easily; hopefully, this time we won’t do ourselves that disservice.
Lal Bhatia is a global thought leader, disruptor, and innovator, who has conceptualised and developed new business models in the most challenging environments. Views expressed are his own and do not reflect the newspaper’s policy.
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